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Thomas Broham never lived in New Plymouth but married the daughter of Archdeacon Henry Govett, and his ashes are interred here.
Broham was born in County Limerick, Ireland in 1840 and emigrated to Australia. At the age of 19 he joined the Victorian police force, well known for its "coercive policing" tactics, and served on the Victorian goldfields. In February 1863 he moved to New Zealand to try his luck as a miner in the Otago goldfields. Six months later he joined the Canterbury Provincial Armed Police Force, where he quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant as a result of his experience from Victoria. The Canterbury force was wanting to follow the Victorian model in anticipation of gold discoveries in the province. Gold was discovered in 1864, and Broham was put in charge of the mission (initially assisted by once constable) to establish policing on the Westland gold field.
Broham helped the Provincial Government agent, W.H. Revell to establish a goldfield administrative centre in Hokitika, and established a police camp. A year later, with 30,000 miners on the 'coast, Broham had risen to the rank of Inspector and had a force of 54 officers. However, they were still living under canvas in atrocious conditions, which had a lasting effect of Broham's health.
In 1868 Westland separated from Canterbury, and Broham headed the new province's police force. However, the decline of the gold rush saw him overseeing a period of shrinking budgets and retrenchment.
In 1870, the Armed Constabulary assimilated the Auckland Provincial police force, and Broham was selected to lead it. Initially unpopular due to his forcing out of inefficient personnel, Broham achieved renown and public acclaim in 1872 when he single-handedly apprehended Cyrus Hayley, the mysterious arsonist who had been plaguing Auckland for more than a year.
Following the abolition of the provinces, the national Armed Constabulary took over all the remaining provincial police forces, and in 1877 Broham was promoted to Superintendent and sent to command the Canterbury district of the police branch of the force. In the depression of 1880 he lost half his force and suffered a demotion back to Inspector.
On 7th February 1881 he married Helen Romaine Govett, daughter of Archdeacon Henry. Later that year he was transferred to South Canterbury, a move seen by some as a demotion for his outspokenness. However, in 1888 he was transferred back to Auckland and within two years was the most senior career policeman in New Zealand. In 1886, the New Zealand Police Force had been established as a mostly unarmed civilian body. The gentler approach to policing did not sit well with Broham, who was increasingly seen as out of touch. Transferred back to Christchurch in 1895, he offered his resignation following a negative Royal Commission report, but retracted it following public agitation. However, he took retirement due to poor health in February 1900 and embarked on a recuperative overseas trip with his wife.
He died of pneumonia in Rome in December 1900 and his ashes were returned to New Plymouth by his widow.
Further reading: Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand
IN MEMORY OF
DIED 20TH DEC. 1900,
AGED 60 YEARS
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